Duke on course for Aintree after impressing in Kelso win

AINTREE is the likely target for Duke of Navan after an impressive victory in Kelso’s feature BetVictor Morebattle hurdle race yesterday (Thursday), writes Hilary Mactaggart.

“He’s in the two-mile novice at Cheltenham,” said winning trainer Nicky Richards, “but it looks a very hot race.

“Mentally and physically he still has some developing to do,” he added, “so we’ll probably pass Cheltenham and maybe go to Aintree.”

The Greystoke trainer completed a double when Brijomi Queen posted her second course success to land the concluding British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF mares bumper.

It was a popular win by the six-year-old, who carries the colours of the MS Borders Racing Club.

St Boswells owner Paul Rooney landed the opening Lloyd Grimme novice chase, with the 6-1 outsider of the three-horse field, Kruzhlinin.

A dual bumper victor over hurdles, before changing hands for £80,000, the six-year-old lived up to his name cruising home by eight lengths under Jason Maguire.

“He´s improving all the time and he´s jumping well now,” said the winning owner.

“There´s a good chance he´ll go to Cheltenham but I´ll leave that to Donald [McCain, trainer].”

Another local winner looked on the cards when Tartan Snow had the upper hand at the last in the CGA Foxhunter Trial open hunter chase.

Hawick jockey Jamie Hamilton kicked for home aboard Stuart Coltherd’s gelding, but he couldn’t shake the favourite Sacred Mountain, who clinched victory by a neck at the post.

The win marked a seasonal best for former ladies’ point-to-point champion, Catherine Walton, whose stepfather, Jimmy, trains the winner.

Sacred Mountain, who has eight point-to-point successes to his credit, was opening his account under Rules.

There was a thrilling conclusion to the Amateur Jockeys’ Association amateur riders handicap chase, with Rolecarr holding on by a nose.

Ann Hamilton’s charge battled resolutely in testing conditions, clinging on to his lead over Or De Grugy, who produced a game challenge in the hands of Hawick jockey and former novice point-to-point champion Blair Campbell.

Jedburgh jockey Callum Bewley, who rode his first winner under Rules the previous afternoon at Musselburgh, brought home the third-placed You Know Yourself for Sue Smith’s Yorkshire yard, where he is now based.

Rolecarr is owned by the trainer’s wife, Ian, who said, “Nick [Slatter, jockey] said that when he hit the front he idled a bit.

“He´s game and he keeps going up in the weights, but he keeps winning. I think he wants to go in a better race off a light weight.”

Totalize made it two out of three when winning the Harry Hill novices’ hurdle race for Brian Ellison.

The victory provided jockey Danny Cook with his 18th success this term.

“He’s a really genuine horse and gives 110 per cent,” said the winning jockey.

“If he gets in the Fred Winter at Cheltenham that should be ideal for him,” he added.

Another impressive winner was the Sue Smith-trained Coverholder, who completed a victorious hat-trick with a comfortable success in the Watch Racing UK On Freeview 231 handicap hurdle race, for the Kelso Annual Members’ Nisbet Cup.

Given another confident ride by Jonathan England, the six-year-old – claimed for £6,000 in a Catterick seller – stormed home ahead of Scimon Templar.

Love was clearly in the air for an Alnwick couple who decided Kelso racecourse and Valentine’s Day was the perfect combination for a marriage proposal.

Farmer Charlie Fortescue proposed to girlfriend Holly Gainslaw at the meeting, and was not only rewarded with a “yes” but also complementary Scottish racing tickets.

A special Valentine’s Day raffle, offering a share in the Philip Kirby-trained Grey Command, attracted plenty of support.

Racing returns to Kelso on Saturday, March 2.


1.40 – KRUZHLININ (J Maguire) 6-1; 2, Conquisto 6-4; 3, Poole Master

10-11 fav. Three ran. D McCain, Cholmondeley.

2.10 – ROLECARR (Mr N Slatter) 11-4 jt fav; 2, Or De Grugy 11-4 jt fav;

3, You Know Yourself 7-1. Eight ran. A Hamilton, Newcastle.

2.40 – DUKE OF NAVAN (B Harding) 5-2; 2, Any Given Day 11-8 fav; 3,

Morning Royalty 5-1. Four ran. N Richards, Penrith.

3.10 – TOTALIZE (D Cook) 9-4; 2, Phoenix Returns 20-1; 3, Calculated

Risk 7-2. 10 ran. B Ellison, Malton.

3.40 – COVERHOLDER (J England) 8-11 fav; 2, Scimon Templar 8-1; 3,

Full Speed 4-1. 9 ran. S Smith, Bingley.